A Real Treat

I work at two schools.  

One school makes popcorn for the teacher's lounge almost every single day.  

The other school makes popcorn for the teacher's lounge once in a blue moon on a random Friday.  They like to throw the dart at the Shall We Make Popcorn wheel and see if it lands on a ding ding, Yes You Shall! 

The Friday before St. Patrick's day was a ding, ding day at the dart throwing school.  Mid-morning, I walked into the lounge with my water jug and my orange; did a little visiting and proceeded to whap my head on the water cooler.  It's a blessing I gave up being suave and collected a long, long time ago.  So there I stood.  Orange in hand.  Looking out at a sea of popcorn and people enjoying the popcorn.

I walked back to my room to peel my orange instead so I didn't smell like butter for the rest of the day.  Sometimes I'm okay with smelling like butter.  That day, I wasn't feeling butter perfume.  As I stood over my garbage, doing the peeling, I thought about this...

Treats.  They are an interesting concept.  School that has popcorn every day doesn't think of it as a treat.  It's there.  All the time.  They just get a little if they want a little.  Dart throwing popcorn school thinks of popcorn as a real treat.  Excited when they smell it floating down the halls.  Embracing the fluffed up yum that will come.  

Where am I going with this?  

I know.  

Treats are important.  Whether it's wearing a darker shade of lipstick or eating some Peanut M&M's while laying in the sun or meeting friends for an after work coffee date or wearing sparkly jewelry (that one can not really be considered a treat in my world...I over-do that treat...every day) or letting a baby sleep in your arms for a bit before laying her down or going grocery shopping with a friend or blowing bubbles in the spring sun without rushing to clean it up.

Treats are a fabulous and dare I say imperative part of life.  But I have the perfectionist personality which can mean I have a hard time not feeling guilty about treats and I'm working on kicking that guilt to the curb.  As long as a treat doesn't become an all the time, it is not worthy of my guilt.

Staying constantly focused on the track of this is what I should be doing right now or I have so much on my list to get done or that has sugar in it is limiting to enjoying life.  It really is.  It can become debilitating quick.  The practice of always remaining eye on the prize can often lead to missing the ding ding winner moments along the way.   

After my orange was peeled, I walked back out into the hallway and two little first grade poptarts came running up to another teacher and I.  They were yelling, "A leprechaun came to our room!  He came!"  There was jumping and fist pumping and giggling and I was hit with the, well isn't this just a unicorn moment.  The other teacher told the girls, "Sing.  Let's hear you sing."  

The two broke out into a rendition of Amazing Grace and I was hit with the, well here comes the glitter to throw off the unicorn moment.  

It was a real treat.  Not all treats come in the form of planned events or sweets, some come flying in when you least expect it.  As long as we aren't moving too fast to notice, they seem to keep arriving.  Yes, life's about taking the time to slow down for treats.  And about allowing ourselves to be imperfect in all areas of our lives at times.  Guilt free.        


Endings Can Be Good

Endings are often thought of as not the favorite.  But I do believe endings can be good.  They can wrap up and tie up and twirl a bow up and make you feel all ready to bounce on your way to the next adventure or the next big thing or even the next little thing.

A smidge over one week ago, my parents and I had a good ending.  A real good ending.  After showering and not putting on makeup or doing our hair, we grilled and enjoyed eating on the patio.  When I speak of the no makeup or hair fixing, I speak of Momma Debi and I.  Dad-o does not usually wear makeup nor do his hair up.  He does, however, man a grill quite well.

With a cocktail companion being his side-kick of course. 

Parents, I'm pretty sure you are living the dream.  For real.  Bonus points to you for both working your tails off to get to this point.  And thank you for letting me share in the dream for long weekends.  Here's hoping I have future bonus points accumulating for always returning to work on Monday mornings.  

Here's where I tell you I didn't help.  Not one bit.  I just stood there with my wet hair holding a plate.  Because I'm like that.

Hello to a perfectly good ending.

I can't really put into words what it was like to sit there in the cool night air with a glass of wine visiting with my parents on their patio in Arizona.  It was a surreal moment.  One I never would have foreshadowed.  Especially in those years when I received a previously owned (that's a nice way to say used) play kitchen set from Santa and my wardrobe consisted of garage sale clothes and it never rained and the crops shriveled and the ground cracked and every penny was pinched.  To this day, if I hear the word drought or someone mentions something about it starting to be dry, my stomach starts to twist.  It's an effect of growing up on a farm in the late 80s in western North Dakota.  So, this may sound weird, but I'm proud of my parents.  Usually that's reversed right?  Parents proud of daughter.  But I'm proud of them to the point it actually makes me tear up and get that chest squeeze feeling.  They worked through the tough times of farming and the struggles of Crohn's disease and the battle of cancer and they did all of it together.  It wasn't always easy and rarely glamorous, but they did it.  Simply put, they are living their dream and even more simply put, because I don't have the words to wrap around the thoughts sufficiently...I am proud of them.

I'm even proud of them when Dad-o falls asleep in the middle of one of my stories and Momma Debi tells me it's time to put the wine away and go to bed.

When I packed up my suitcase in the dark the next morning, I felt sufficiently wrapped up and rejuvenated.  Ready to bounce to the next thing.  I'm thinking that always catching the sunrise view at the airport helps make the transition back to the real world easier.

I was blessed to spend a long weekend with my parents.  I was blessed when Dad-o walked me all the way to the airport door just to make sure I was in alright and hugged me and gave me a kiss on the cheek with an "I love you" to send me on my way.  I was blessed to find this snack in my purse while sitting on the plane and I wanted to explain to the person sitting next to me, "I'm not taking a picture of this because it's an orange.  I'm taking a picture of this because it's a beautiful reminder of how much my mom loves me."  But I didn't.  I decided for once, that being in a quiet moment was satisfying. 

I stayed quiet the whole flight.  Content and quiet with my own thoughts. 

Until I walked off the plane and had to yell out in a southern accent to embarrass Sister Pister and her two friends.  Quiet time was over at that point.  Because they were more than a tad excited to be boarding the same plane I stepped off of to head down to Momma Debi and Dad-o for their week of fun.  My good ending was their beginning and I'm fairly certain there was zero quiet time involved in their vacation.   


Call Me Crazy

Call me crazy, but I'm here to tell you a pool party with your mom and dad being the only other party people is just on this side of a happy place.  Before the pool festivities though, Dad-o was on a mission.  On a mission to get the patio furniture put together and arranged.  I totally pulled a kid move.  Woke up early, made my way downstairs to get coffee, saw Momma Debi and Dad-o starting to take pieces of boxes, and promptly wheeled around.  Avoiding that whole scene and instead, climbing back up the stairs to sleep for another hour.  Magically when I woke the second time, this business was done. 

I gave them each a high five and left for my morning run.  And when I came back, we had to go to Hobby Lobby.  We had to.  Because they wanted some greenery for the corners.  I obliged with the stipulation, "We have to be back quick.  I will not spend this beautiful day shopping.  Quick.  We will be quick."

We were back in time to spend the entire rest of the day pool partying.  Momma Debi sipped wine out of a stainless steel wine glass.  My sister-in-law thinks of the best gifts; seriously, I envy her genius ideas.  

I did nothing.

Dad-o took in the water.  Figuratively speaking of course.   

Momma D. brought a touch of the farm to our afternoon when she hung up the jeans to dry on the fence.

She also talked on the phone while in the water.  I told you she is a wild daring thing. 

Dad-o carried the farm theme further and said, "I need to get a sign.  One that says Jed Clampett on it."  So pretend he is holding the sign.  

I did nothing.  Except to try and figure out how to be in the water taking pictures without dropping my camera.  My strap ended up soaked.  Camera stayed dry.  Victory.   

Dad-o floated on by.  

Momma Debi looked cute. 

I did nothing.  Other than feel truly content.  Which I suppose is not nothing.  It's rather something actually.   

When the evening sun started to display its always perfect shine, my parents went inside to start supper...dinner...whatever you want to call it.  And I was once again struck by the sun love.  There's just something about the way it makes everything sparkle that gets me. 

Knowing I would have to wake in the dark the next morning to board a plane, my feet and I sought out the last spot in the yard that was still shining and soaked it in.  Until the very last of it dipped behind the house.  


When Left Unattended

Home feeling.  There is something about waking up in an upstairs bedroom and hearing your parents in the kitchen downstairs visiting over their first cup of coffee.  It's a home feeling.  Like you are back to the days of not having a care in the world.  Back to the days of not being the grown up.  The first morning I woke up in Arizona, it was that exact home feeling which flooded over me.  When I woke up, it was complete relaxation.  Not spinning about what I needed to do or thinking about what the day would bring.  I simply slowly woke up, smelled the coffee, heard the visits, rubbed my sleepy eyes, wrapped myself in a quilt, and walked down the stairs to the kitchen.  Dad-o was already past the point of relaxing coffee time.  Seven in the morning is too late for him.  But Momma Debi and I brought our coffee out to the patio and enjoyed the steam rising to our faces while the sun added its own warmth. 

Pretty soon it was past the point of coffee relaxing for Momma D as well.  She and Dad-o left to run some errands and do some shopping.  They left me unattended.  After a quick contemplation of what do I do now, the decision slapped me.  Vacation.  Drag the lazy out.  I ran back up the stairs to grab my book, poured another cup of coffee, and curled up in that quilt to stay in the quietness of morning.

Often times, there are these moments I have.  Moments that make me think I'm extremely blessed, lucky, this is the good life, does it get better than this, could this last forever.  Then what happens is I want to capture it.  Figure out a way to show how that sun warmed my bare foot and how it felt shining on my no makeup wearing face and how the breeze blew so slightly through my messy morning hair and how I felt nothing other than content.  Truly content.  I want to capture them and bottle them and save them for later.  Those moments I have.   

I read one more chapter and then just one more chapter before finally putting the morning coffee time away to lace up the running shoes and hit the sidewalk.  Running in the sun is the best.  It really is.  For some reason, I push harder and go farther.   

The sweat is an added bonus.  Sweating until it literally is dripping off the nose is a best ever when running.  When I got back to the house, I was still unattended.  Which is never a bad thing for me.  I'm easily self entertained.  Sitting by the pool with a grapefruit I picked off the tree can become as exciting as hitting the jackpot.  

If you haven't read, The Art of Racing in the Rain, I highly recommend you do.  I sat next to my finished grapefruit for so long that it became crystallized from the hot; it's the kind of book you want to simply read one more and one more and one more word.  I'm usually of the belief dude, a dog is a dog...but in this case, I loved that darn Enzo so much by the end of the book it almost made me want one for myself.  Almost.   

Then I fell asleep.  So hard drool was puddling under my face.  So hard my swimsuit stuck to my body.  I was woke up from Dad-o yelling at me, "Dinner is ready!"  I shook myself out of the sun drunk sleep and made a mental chuckling note of the fact he called in dinner not lunch.

I walked into the kitchen to find salad fixings all chopped and ready for me to assemble and a burger made from North Dakota beef.  This time, I kept the burger on the healthy side.  No bun.  No cheese dripping from everywhere.  No butter soaked mushrooms.  A vacation can not be a free for all after all. 

After lunch, I laid in the sun and laid in the sun and laid in the sun.  Literally all day I relaxed.  Did nothing.  Until I couldn't take it anymore so I showered and got ready for a dinner out.  When I came down the stairs for a letting my hair dry naturally break, I heard laughter coming from the pool.  And then I saw this.  My parents.  Still liking each other.  Still having fun with each other.  Living the dream they have worked more than hard for.  Together.  My heart squeezed.  

Busted.  Busted by your twenty-eight and three quarters year old daughter.  You two crazy things you.  

Dear Momma Debi and Dad-o, I love you two.  You are both as goofy as the day is long, but I love you.  

Dear Self, who knew you were actually a giant?

Dear Evening Colors, you rocked my world.  

And then we had a lovely dinner with a fire crackling and an adult conversation flowing.  As I sat there talking to my parents, it was yet another whammy of when did this happen?  When did I become an adult? 

When did I become so old lady that I fell asleep on the couch before ten just like my dad.  I used to think for goodness sake why can't you stay awake during a movie every time the snores would start coming from the recliner and now apparently, I join right in.  Although, I don't snore.  I drool.  This Momma Debi though?  She's a trooper.  She stayed awake.  Which means the jury is still out whether she's in the snore or drool camp.